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How much should be left to the imagination? Options · View
LarsKaiden
Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 10:23:49 AM

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One of the issues I often find when writing stories is how much should be left to the imagination. I'm particularly thinking about character descriptions, but the same principle could apply to a lot of different aspects of the story. For example, "she was 23 and had a hot body" may appeal to some readers because it leaves the them to imagine the physical qualities of that 23 year-old girl. Other readers may be less-imaginative and rather disappointed that the physical characteristics of the girl weren't described in detail. And yet other readers may be thrilled or disappointed that the detailed description of the girl either met or did not meet their expectations. Of course, the example uses a girl, but the same can equally apply to the description of a guy.

How important is it to you, the reader, to be told what to imagine rather than filling in the blanks?

To the authors, have you thought about this issue, and how do you deal with it?

Emily.
Jillicious
Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 12:08:35 PM

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giving a run down of the description of a character, including measurements, is usually a huge turn off for me.
If you are going to give deep descriptions of a character it is best, imo, to introduce those gradually over time as the story allows and not all at once.

Thousands of user submitted stories removed from the site. You are nothing without your users or their freely submitted stories.
Guest
Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 12:15:01 PM

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Personally, I want details as they are seen, not overboard or such, but enough to get a picture of the girl YOU'RE talking about. It's your story tell it as you see it in your mind and to hell with everyone else. And I don't like: "her breasts were 36D." People can use similies, analogies and metaphors more in erotic writing.

EDITED: Don't be clinical with it, but give the important details, the ones that make her different from all the other girls.
Rembacher
Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 12:23:22 PM

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I would suggest using words like "full breasts," "thick cock," and "firm ass" while leaving out specific measurements. This allows the reader to picture in their mind what they feel meets the description. For me, full breasts would be a C cup, to others, maybe DD.
Cheltenham
Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2010 6:33:12 PM

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GirlyWorld wrote:
One of the issues I often find when writing stories is how much should be left to the imagination. I'm particularly thinking about character descriptions, but the same principle could apply to a lot of different aspects of the story. For example, "she was 23 and had a hot body" may appeal to some readers because it leaves the them to imagine the physical qualities of that 23 year-old girl. Other readers may be less-imaginative and rather disappointed that the physical characteristics of the girl weren't described in detail. And yet other readers may be thrilled or disappointed that the detailed description of the girl either met or did not meet their expectations. Of course, the example uses a girl, but the same can equally apply to the description of a guy.

How important is it to you, the reader, to be told what to imagine rather than filling in the blanks?

To the authors, have you thought about this issue, and how do you deal with it?

Emily.


I haven't read the rest of the responses but I have a bit of information to offer.

A story that is written is not going to be liked by every person who reads it. Too brief a description, a tireless five paragraph introduction that bores many to tears; or even something in the middle will not satisfy the majority unfortunately.

I recommend writing for yourself firstly. Then go ahead and worry about what this one or that one prefer. I personally loathe a long and drawn out buildup unless it culminates in a kinky and equally lengthy orgy of sex, or the story pertains to the rest of a series. If a "pop off" story is being penned, please keep the intros at 6 to 8 lines or readers might vote you down. Base the themes of a story somewhat in reality unless the proper tags are identified in the story headers.

And tie up the loose ends of the story before reaching its end unless it is being left open for a sequel.

How important is it to you, the reader, to be told what to imagine rather than filling in the blanks?

If I answered this already I apologise for my redundancy. But I like to have a general idea about a character. Leave the ages out except for the headers, give details about breast size (small, average, big/large) cock size (average, large) maybe a hint at what her/his body type looks like. Don't necessarily use "average" or "large" but something like it.

To the authors, have you thought about this issue, and how do you deal with it?

I have thought about it and sometimes people are very finicky about a couple sentences of a story. It comes with the territory so expect a little hassle with posting to a public forum. I take suggestions but if you are blatantly telling me I'm crap I am not going to pay any mind.

Well I hope I never figure out
Who broke your heart ~ Baby if I do
Well I'd spend all night losing sleep
I'd spend the night and I'd lose my mind
Sandrine
Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2010 7:11:55 PM

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I try to leave a good deal to the imagination. At the same time, I do have definite ideas in describing my characters. The male character that I write about most often is a 38 year old Asian male detective. The female is a 19 year female Caucasian college student. I don't give height/weight/measurements. I prefer to leave that to the reader's imagination. I have a definite view of them. One reader told me that they are "crystal clear in my mind". Sometimes my definite perception leaves me little creative room, but I guess that comes with the territory.

In custody.

I love baseball!!!


Sandrine
Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2010 7:11:57 PM

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I try to leave a good deal to the imagination. At the same time, I do have definite ideas in describing my characters. The male character that I write about most often is a 38 year old Asian male detective. The female is a 19 year female Caucasian college student. I don't give height/weight/measurements. I prefer to leave that to the reader's imagination. I have a definite view of them. One reader told me that they are "crystal clear in my mind". Sometimes my definite perception leaves me little creative room, but I guess that comes with the territory.

In custody.

I love baseball!!!


Guest
Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 1:40:58 PM

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I definitely find descriptions much more appealing than measurements. I would rather read that "her breasts were a generous handful," as opposed to, "she had 36C boobs." And I like them to be worked in naturally early in the story. I hate the physical info dump paragraph method. I much prefer having descriptions worked in along with action, rather than getting a laundry list of physical dimensions and facts.

And early is important. I was reading a story where it was revealed halfway through that the main character was Asian. This completely threw off my mental image, and forced me to recalibrate everything I'd read up to that point. It took me so far out of the story that I only made it a few more paragraphs before I gave up due to the conflicting pictures in my head. If I'd had the correct impression up front, I would have likely finished the story and enjoyed it much more.
Guest
Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 1:51:31 PM

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kinkybelle wrote:

And early is important. I was reading a story where it was revealed halfway through that the main character was Asian. This completely threw off my mental image, and forced me to recalibrate everything I'd read up to that point. It took me so far out of the story that I only made it a few more paragraphs before I gave up due to the conflicting pictures in my head. If I'd had the correct impression up front, I would have likely finished the story and enjoyed it much more.


I agree with you there, and I see it a lot here, unfortunately.
Dancing_Doll
Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 2:11:50 PM

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I want readers to be able to imagine my characters, but I don't go into a significant amount of detail when describing the way they look. I prefer to provide details as the story evolves, but definitely establish the basic physicality as early on as possible. I definitely prefer a more subtle approach to weaving in descriptives rather than "pausing" the story to paint a picture. The picture should evolve early on, but definitely in a natural way, in my opinion.

In terms of my erotica writing, I have used "myself" as my main character in all my stories. Sometimes it feels a bit awkward to describe myself in words, without sounding a bit... hmm... I don't know... maybe narcissistic is the right word? As such, I tend to go light on details, and assume those that have seen my pics can fill in the rest of the blanks... lol




Guest
Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 4:12:23 PM

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I don't like measurements either but I really hate it when people write them out in number format instead of how they are spelled e.g. 23 years old instead of twenty three. It just seems lazy
WellMadeMale
Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 6:58:52 PM

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GirlyWorld wrote:


To the authors, have you thought about this issue, and how do you deal with it?

Emily.


Barely 16 year old Alice, stood 5'7" and weighed a svelte 121 pounds. Her freckly face made her look much younger. Her pert and proud 40 C-cup breasts waved, "Hello," to my eyes and to my 9 inch long, seven point five inch girth cockasaurus, much in the same way the Klynn County school crossing guard waves at you in the morning.

Her toned, tanned and trim gams signaled that she was ready to wrap them around my own athletic 46 inch waist. I could almost smell the pubescent scent of her lust as she wafted it towards me, yet pretended she didn't.

She was born to breed. I - was born to salivate, masturbate and hopefully, not be noticed (by the authorities).

[Get the picture?] geek

Obscenity is the last refuge of an inarticulate motherfucker.
WellMadeMale
Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 7:06:54 PM

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Cheltenham wrote:
GirlyWorld wrote:


To the authors, have you thought about this issue, and how do you deal with it?

Emily.


I recommend writing for yourself firstly.


That is the correct motorcycle! thumbup

I feel that writing is a selfish endeavor. How sophisticated you wish to be, is totally up to you. Your editor may disagree, but that is why you pay her or him, the big buck$.

Cut loose and let it rip.

Obscenity is the last refuge of an inarticulate motherfucker.
Guest
Posted: Friday, September 10, 2010 3:47:09 AM

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Good forum! For my part, I find it really annoying when I am given 'too much information'. I hate it when a good story is spoiled by such unnecessary items like 36DD or 9" or 120lbs. I just hate it. That is what my brain is for and I think someone said earlier that it can be a real turn off because it just doesn't gel with what you have created in your imagination. If you don't want readers to make their own contribution, post a photograph. If you want readers to enjoy the story, don't spoil it by making the text into a description of your photograph.
Anyway, to at least half of the world, 36DD means absolutely nothing. I was sent to a posh lingerie shop here in Austria to buy some stuff for a friend in England. My instructions were clearly written down. The shop assistants had no idea what 34C actually meant. If I buy shoes I get 43. I admit that I am on the small side compared to most male Lush readers but I am not afraid to say that I am happy with my 17.5cm. But imagine how annoying it would be for the American readers if I wrote something like,
'She was about 155cm tall, and 58Kg. I freed up her breasts from her size 3 bra and slipped her my full 22.5cm. Afterwards I dressed, pulling on my size 25 jeans and 43 trainers before driving the 12.5Km back to my flat in my 1.8L, 115PS car, where I poured myself a 0.33L glass of cold Pils and thought Wow, that was one sexy night.’
I hope that makes sense. None of the above is relevant to a good story. Let the reader do some work! I might write poor stories myself but my aim is always to try to create characters and settings that allow the reader to relate to the story and become involved. If I have a plot of sorts, it is only there to help me develop characters and relationships. I want (don't know if it works!) my readers to be able to maybe imagine that they are one of the characters and become part of the story. If my heroine is 38DD and never goes with anyone smaller than the ubiquitous 9 inch stud, it rules out about 99% of the population of the world from being able to relate to it from their own experience.
Its only one person’s opinion of course,……
argue
LarsKaiden
Posted: Saturday, September 11, 2010 5:38:46 PM

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Thanks very much to everyone for all your thoughtful replies!

I've found a wealth of information in your responses, and I truly appreciate all the help you have provided.

Emily.
Guest
Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 2:39:49 PM

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Its very difficult to feed a reader's imagination. It requires an artist. I have watched many strip shows and some georgous girls are quite useless, whilst other nondescript girls have the art of making themselves almost irresistible. But always remember 'one mans meat is another mans poison'.
Guest
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 4:10:56 PM

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Why not take a 50-50 approach? Over Detailed description may be boring to some, while too brief it can be dissapointing since we dont know how the girl or guy looks like. I usually give very brief but effective (from feedback assessment in erotica and non erotic) description. Highlight the major appearance like haircolour and length, height (tall, short, average), breasts size (preferably round and nice to the eye for erotica) and age. Throw in special highlights if she has any, like pouty lips. The intimate body description can be added when the story develops and the characters are getting steamy and naked evil4
1ball
Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012 3:18:47 PM

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I like the reader to be able to picture himself or herself in one of the roles in the story. To do that requires less detail rather than more, because the detail can exclude the reader from the character. So I give the level of detail that is important to the story and very little more. That's often age, race, skin tone, height, and sometimes build or body type and I give it as naturally as it flows from the narrator/storyteller character, because how the detail is delivered is saying something about the character who is telling the tale.

My latest story is too hot to publish. My most recent story before that is Even Stranger In Lust
naughtiestmommy
Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012 4:34:37 PM

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Details, details, details! I think details are definitely important. It's the delivery of the details that can make or break a story, though!

I find that, overwhelmingly, of all the messages I receive from people about my stories, they almost always compliment on how detailed they are. But it can be tricky because, in writing, one of the biggest challenges is in the giving of information. If done incorrectly, it can easily disrupt the flow of the story. Left out, though, you may confuse your readers or, even worse, fail to capture their interest.

The best advice I could give to a writer is to consider how they might describe a detail of the story to someone who cannot see it. I really enjoy the use of analogy and metaphor in describing things, but not everyone feels comfortable using them.


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I'm a loner, Dottie. A Rebel...
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adele
Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 10:03:22 AM

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I personally give very few details. maybe I should give a few more. Unless it is very important to the storyline, I rarely mention race or color. I would rather each reader be able to imagine what the character should look like in their own mind. I do see, however, where some people who may not have much imagination might need some minimal description at least. Reading some of the things here, I think I may add a little more physical detail, but not so much as to give an absolute picture. I read a series by J.D. Robb and I have a picture in my mind of what all the regular characters look like. though she does give just enough description, I have actors in mind who would play each character in the movie.
clum
Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 11:43:13 AM

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I want to share my own recent experience of actually using this as a writing technique. I wanted to to allow the main character of a story to be almost anyone the reader wanted him to be. It was somehow important that he was unextraordinary, that nothing in particular stood out about his physical appearance. I included no descriptions on him (save a vague allusion to height) - no hair colour, eye colour, build, hairiness, penis length; it was completely up to the reader to make him up in their mind.

In other situations, it has been important that the reader know something about the character (sometimes penis size falls into this category). Therefore, there's no general answer to this question. It depends on the story and on the characters. Sometimes it's tempting to tell the reader exactly how you imagine the character but your reader might have a completely different idea. Depending on what you want to achieve, you can vary the freedom your readers are allowed to exercise.

Jayne33
Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 12:58:47 PM

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As an author I have thought about it, and have taken the choice to limit the amount of description I use, giving as little information as possible and allowing the reader to imagine the setting, characters as they would find attractive. I may add a few details, perhaps hair and eye colour if I feel it adds to the story, but I don’t feel the need to go into great detail.



Sadie's Confession By Jaymal & Jayne33
Guest
Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2012 2:39:28 PM

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Personally, I prefer to drop details in when and if it suits, but to leave as much as possible to the imagination of the reader. Partly this is to make room for the reader to fill in the blanks with her/his particular ideal, but also because, as a reader of any kind of fiction, I tend to pick up on the general idea of a character, rather than details. As with so many things, I suppose it's a balancing act, but as a reader I'd personally rather have too little descriptive detail than too much, and that's the way I write.

And I much prefer the use of adjectives like tall, broad, slim, buxom or whatever to precise measurements.

Oh, and re "Guest's" little point about figures. I was always taught to spell out figures up to twenty in full, and after that to write 21, 22 etc. I'm not sure I always remember to do so, but it's a handy general rule.

myself
Posted: Friday, August 10, 2012 5:54:29 AM

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I think I've succeeded if yourself, myself, or their selves can find them self in my stories. Rarely do I give much description for this reason. So many writers paint pictures of perfect characters which turns me off right a way. Personally I don't want perfect. I want to find perfection in the imperfections with all the dirty stuff thrown in too. : )

Torture the data long enough and they will confess to anything.
Guest
Posted: Monday, August 20, 2012 6:52:49 PM

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A hair color, an eye color, a height. Start with a major physical detail early on and let the rest build as it's relevant. In my stories, much of the descriptions of the characters are vague, but that's partly due to the way I format my stories. I don't mention the size, heft or shape of a penis until that penis has been exposed and become relevant to the story. The same goes for any part of the body usually covered, with few exceptions. Sometimes in dialogue a character might brag about their attributes- though this can turn out to be false- but in general it should flow with the story. I like a hair color up front just because it helps most people form an image when they hear "blonde" or "red haired", for examples. For me (as a reader, but not necessarily as a writer) hair color is the best starting detail. It really all depends on the story, it's length, it's degree of physical versus emotion detail, it's level of pornyness (sorry for making up that word, but the coffee's wearing off) versus erotica; but in my experience a first person narrative beginning with the narrator describing themselves in detail is usually a portent of an ill-devised story.

Using that formula- which many people have suggested, I know- the longer the story is, the more physical details tend to leak out of your brain and onto the page for people to see. Of course the other side of that coin is to make sure that your readers are not constantly re-envisioning what your characters look like, as that can be quite distracting.

Hugs to Lush.
Mako
Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2012 6:19:09 AM

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3some hot body can translate into curvy hips or toned thighs.perhaps ass grabbing shorts or straining nipples.
Guest
Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2012 7:22:23 AM

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Some of the best stories I have ever read, mentioned nothing about cock size or breast size. Allowing the reader to formulate what turns them on in those areas is fine with me.

Depends on how the author lays out the story. Centerline makes some very valid points and not a lot can me expounded on from that post, in my point of view anyway. Just saying..

Id
Adagio
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 12:53:19 PM

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Imagination is a wonderful thing...don't make mockery of it
Guest
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 3:14:06 PM

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Depends, but I Love Great Imaginations:)
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